Leading the opening team for Ascott Gurney Penang, hospitality veteran and General Manager Sharon Ang shares her vision of the future for the Ascott brand.
Step inside Ascott Gurney Penang, and you are following in the footsteps of numerous business and leisure travellers who made the property their temporary home-away-from-home. Owned by Plenitude Berhad, which has spread its wings across Southeast Asia, this international-class serviced residence is the first of its kind for Ascott Malaysia.
Rooms range from studios to two-bedroom apartments with fully furnished kitchenettes, suiting short and long stays. Each area has been designed to get a taste of luxury, maximizing on open spaces and modern comforts. The property is further enhanced by delectable dining experiences as well as business and recreational facilities. The lobby is sophisticated, has notable artworks of Penang’s heritage and adjoins Jo’s Bar, a plush watering hole with a towering selection of booze.
A level up is Timur Coffee House where we sat down with General Manager Sharon Ang to understand her roles and responsibilities at Ascott Gurney Penang. Deeply ingrained in the hospitality line, she shares her insights and ideas for making the hotel a household name. Keep reading for the full interview.
1. How long have you been attached to Ascott Gurney Penang?
I joined Ascott Gurney Penang in October 2021, to prepare and set up the opening of the property. I am excited to be trusted in leading such a unique project for Ascott Malaysia.
2. Where did you start your professional hotel career?
It was a Degree in Hotel Management that began the journey, followed by my first job in my hometown at Casuarina Hotel, then Syuen Hotel and YTL Hotels. The latter brand is where I spent more than 20 years.
3. What is your mission and vision for Ascott Gurney?
The mission is to provide outstanding lodging facilities and services to our guests. Our hotel focuses on individual business and leisure travels, as well as travels associated with group meetings. We emphasise high-quality standards in rooms and F&B divisions. My top vision is positioning Ascott Gurney Penang as a leading hotel establishment on an island seen as a getaway destination.
4. What are the typical responsibilities of a GM?
Well, as GM, the role is to lead all aspects of the hotel. Right from the reception, food and room services, to booking, budgeting, marketing, and staff. To provide daily coaching and direction to help the team construct their action plans, build pipelines, and inspire the associates to drive financial success. The last point comprises daily growth, market share development, and stimulating new business opportunities.
5. What are the upcoming plans or expansions for Ascott Gurney?
To complete the development of Phase 2, which is to add 136 more rooms; bringing the total to 271 rooms by the first quarter of next year. We are also excited about the upcoming Pool Bar, a refreshing bar nearing its final stage of completion.
As for the Ascott brand itself, Citadines Connect and Citadines are upcoming serviced residence projects. The former is expected to complete by this August, while the latter observes the first quarter of 2023.
6. How would you describe your leadership/management style?
I believe in building, developing and recognising a team. Each team member plays an important role, hence they should be clear and on par with the management’s expectations. If the Associates do something right, I will let them know and motivate them. It is one of my priorities, and part of Ascott’s groundwork, to continually coach and provide a direction.
7. What is the biggest project you have worked on at Ascott?
The launch of Ascott Gurney Penang was my biggest project. This is the first flagship of Ascott Malaysia with full facilities such as F&B outlets, ballrooms, and conference installations. Every aspect had to be taken care of and the team pulled it off with excellence.
8. Gurney Drive has a stretch of reputable hotels, how will Ascott Gurney set itself apart?
The Ascott brand is one of the leading international lodging owner-operators, and our operational expertise has gained recognition worldwide. The flexibility our guests attain in the lease period, depending on their length of stay, from daily to monthly and more, is a commendable factor. Not forgetting, our Guest Loyalty Program, known as “Discover ASR”, rewards our regular customers.
For decades, Gurney Drive has been a place to see and be seen. The promenade is filled with food, entertainment, and colonial charms. Ascott Gurney Penang affirms our presence by complementing Penang’s tourism emphasis on these essential elements. I foresee the promenade becoming a top spot on the island and so will our establishment.
9. What role does technology play in improving the guest experience?
The act of Digital Check-In streamlines the guest experience and helps those who want to head straight to their rooms. It gives travellers the power to pick the rooms they want. Technological advancement also contributes to cyber security, personalised guest experience, slick hotel management software, and faster Wi-Fi. In future, robots shall enhance hospitality in certain areas.
10. Which is your favourite dining space at Ascott Gurney Penang? What’s special about it?
My personal favourite spot is our Jo’s Bar. Decked with tall cabinetry that showcases collections of spirits, wines and champagnes, it is a sight to behold. Watch our skilled mixologists in action behind the bar, which results in some of the best Mojito Cocktails and in-house special concoctions.
11. A perfect day off for me is…
A day to reset and recharge myself. Either I join a group of friends and family or get quality alone time by cleaning the house, taking a nap, and watching a video.
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